Toyota
is back in hot water with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The government agency has just opened up a new investigation into whether or not the Japanese Automaker initiated a recall on 1989-1998 T100 pickups and 4Runner models quickly enough. Toyota first noticed a defect with the vehicle's steering linkages in 2004 and issued a recall in Japan that same year. The company didn't put its American vehicles under a recall until September 2005.

According to NHTSA, the defect has resulted in a total of 16 accidents with three deaths and seven injuries. So why the delay in announcing a U.S. recall? Toyota says it believed the defect was unlikely to occur on vehicles sold in the States because American driving cycles are significantly different from those in Japan. Once the company received 54 complaints on the issue, it supposedly alerted NHTSA of the problem within the five days allowed under the law.

If all of this sounds familiar, it should. The NHTSA recently charged Toyota with a $16.4 million fine for failing to notify the government of the infamous unintended acceleration issue within the allotted time. Since then, Toyota has been more forthcoming with information about what it claims the company knew and when, but so far there's no been official word from the automaker about this latest investigation.

[Source: Consumer Reports]